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Democracy under threat

Published Jun 18, 2012 11:05pm


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Rights activist and former SCBA president Asma Jahangir. — Photo

THE masks are off and daggers drawn. Pakistan’s democratic process may once again become a part of history, leaving the world to wonder how we could so willingly poison ourselves in the belief that it would lead to better days.

Those in power have consistently let their people down — ruthlessly. But no one is being fooled. They may feel helpless in the face of manipulation by everyone trying to save their skins — the judiciary included — but as the courts have often held themselves the truth does eventually prevail.

In the meanwhile, the country is headed for another phase of political instability that may finally lead to yet another autocracy. Sense may prevail at the end, but in the process, many heads will roll and hopes will be demolished. These are sad days for Pakistan.

Four years of democratic rule have given people little to rejoice about. Memories of dark nights and empty stomachs will begin to symbolise democracy. Political parties will be judged by their rowdy TV shows and insincerity. The judiciary remained the only institution in which people put their faith. Over the years that too has eroded. Many judgments appear self-laudatory and judged with different yardsticks. Those who follow constitutional rulings may disagree on every aspect of the judgments delivered by the Supreme Court (SC), but there is ample evidence to show that the standards applied in the selection of suo motu cases, the admissibility of cases under Article 184(3) and the process adopted do not follow similar criteria.

The Arsalan Iftikhar judgment is no exception. An additional note from one honourable judge is perhaps the only sobering part of the entire judgment that otherwise appears weak in its reasoning and strong in paying tribute to itself.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain’s additional note says “while we as judges are particularly in the public domain, all persons exercising state functions are in the eyes of the people. Although family members of public functionaries are, properly speaking, not performing state functions, the alleged facts of this case highlight the necessity of extreme caution and discretion in their private and public dealings and conduct”.

Judges ought to be judged on the basis of the level of integrity they display and the quality of their judgments, not by the numbers of followers they have in the bar rooms while they serve on the bench.

Similarly, the independence of bar associations lies in being objective, professionally sound and judged by the quality of deliberation at the premises, not by the rumpus created during meetings. They must not be seen to please either the judiciary or the executive. Their agenda should be led by principles, not the position taken by any political party.

Debarring members of the legal fraternity from bar associations without due process is objectionable. Intimidating lawyers from accepting a brief is not the practice of independent bar associations. Even criminals accused of genocide had legal counsels. How does debarring and intimidating fellow lawyer promote the rule of law or the independence of the bar and bench?

Arsalan Iftikhar’s case has disturbed the legal fraternity that suspects a dubious business tycoon has been set up to defame the judiciary. This is entirely possible. Admittedly, the SC has irked the government and most recently the establishment too. The inference is strengthened with the Bahria tycoon claiming to have documented each transaction.

Moreover, it is almost inconceivable, despite pleas of being driven to the wall, for a businessman to take the huge risk of exposing the son of Pakistan’s most powerful chief justice ever. On the other hand, it is argued that while traces of conspiracy are well founded, only someone with strong backing could have come forward and that the wealth accumulated by Arsalan Iftikhar is equally dubious.

The matter may be a scam. Nevertheless it needs to be probed extensively. The SC ruling described it as a matter of the “gravest national importance”, but went no further and the matter was handed over to the attorney general, an executive appointee. This appears illogical, as he represents the very executive that is suspected of hatching this sleazy conspiracy. Will Arsalan Iftikhar get justice from such an executive? The SC should have given the matter greater thought.

On the other hand, if Arsalan Iftikhar is indeed guilty of misdeeds would an already beleaguered executive dare say so and be believed? Any such adverse finding against Dr Arsalan Iftikhar would eventually bring the jiyalas of the PPP and the jan nisaris of the honourable chief justice in direct confrontation. That could be embarrassing for the judiciary that has no concern with the accusations.

The attorney general is advised to handle the matter delicately and in a depoliticised manner. The probe must be impartial and transparent. The SC has often reiterated the need for unhindered access to information on matters of public importance and now is the time to test its words of wisdom.

The Arsalan Iftikhar case and subsequent unethical disclosures in the media have finally convinced the superior judiciary of ensuring that the media follows a code of conduct. An earlier awakening may have spared some painful embarrassment, especially when a large number of suo motu cases were picked out of media reporting without any verification.

Being maligned in the media hurts but when this reaches the highest echelons of the judiciary it becomes a permanent smear. Judiciaries must be as sensitive to the reputation of others as they are to their own. At the same time, they are the custodians of freedom of expression and speech, thus restrictions on the media must be balanced so that this precious right gained after decades of struggle is not compromised in any way.

The media must regulate its own code of conduct; its freedom cannot be compromised and restrictions on it must not be applied from outside unless, it incites violence, like in the case of Rwanda.

The courts have powers under contempt of court to restrain the media from interfering in the administration of justice. Denials should be fairly displayed and defamation cases effectively dealt with by the media. There are enough laws to keep the media in check if these are effectively and properly used in a balanced manner. The worst outcome of the Arsalan case will be to unwittingly pressure the media into self-censorship. It is better to respect its freedom, even when it errs, rather than gag it with heavy guidelines from the outside.

Sadly, the democratic process may prove shortlived. The establishment has played its cards well. It has masterfully used the hands of civilian institutions to cut each other down to size.

There will be no winners as the one who survives will also suffer in isolation. A mere stroke will paralyse the victor too. After all, democracy rests on all three pillars of the state and no one pillar alone can bear the weight of this complex system. We are moving fast in this unfortunate direction and unless we reverse it now, it may be too late.

The writer is a prominent lawyer and human rights activist.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (145) Closed

Amir Saeed Jun 19, 2012 04:39pm
Interesting. Could you please give us a little more details of how your grandfather was cheated? Under what circumstances? Truth should be out.
Amir Saeed Jun 19, 2012 04:44pm
Surely you could do better with your life. Ms. Jahangir's twisted logic is quite evident in this article. She starts out be saying that people would remember democracy by dark nights and empty stomach and then laments its passing away. Well Gilani-Zardari duo does not equal to democracy. Demanding that the thoroughly inept political government should be thrown out does not mean being anti-democracy or asking the military to step in.
Muhammad Ishaq Jun 19, 2012 04:39pm
she is 100% correct. mostly fascist mind is working against democracy. without democracy this country will break up.
M Arif Qureshi Jun 19, 2012 04:48pm
judiciary did a great job well done
mangesh sird Jun 19, 2012 04:32pm
Hats off to sister Asmajee ! How has she survived the fanatics for such a long time,when another brave lady Benazir jee lost her life ? Pl take care of this v BOLD outspoken lady . She is an asset to the sub-continent !
Bilal Ashraf Jun 19, 2012 04:25pm
A detailed analysis of the present status of Judicial Behavior, But I dont find any any substantial link to the failure of democracy as the writer builds with an effort
Sudy Jun 19, 2012 04:21pm
Yes people of Pakistan did vote for Zardari and his party; whether you like it or not!!
Sudy Jun 19, 2012 04:23pm
Well said Ms. Jehangir. But sadly you too learned the truth too late, after the damage has already been done.
Maroof Alam Jun 19, 2012 05:10pm
The author is a leftist and leftists do not always are correct.....
Maroof Alam Kashkoli Jun 19, 2012 05:15pm
Though I am no fan of any form of dictatorship but the ground reality makes you guys win the argument. Certainly democracy is not an end in itself. If it doesn't pay then I have to say it very painfully that it has to go. I would hate to see a dictator ever again in Pakistan but......unfortunately.....
Parvez Anjum Jun 19, 2012 05:16pm
Ms Asma's views are coloured and biased and clearly tilted towards PPP and little towards country. She seems to be spokes person of PPP. She is advocating the Sham democracy that snatched bread,light and our mega projects and instittions. She has never criticized- or uttered a single word about -the political President- never allowed under the constitution- and never condemned and slated the rampant corruption and worst governance that has no parallel in near past. The present era reminds us of the Bhutto regime of 70's that demolished our economy to zero level and capital flew away to other safe havens. I wonder that intellectual of this type are serving not the cause of the country but of their own.
Syed Jun 19, 2012 05:03pm
I guess you are forgetting not one Watt of electricity was added, the debt was trippled, Baluchistan was destroyed, and people like Raymond Davis was given visas. If he wants to come back then let him run in the next elections and we will find out how 'popular' he is beyond facebook.
Capt Mansur Jun 19, 2012 05:25pm
Agree with both Alvia and Raza
Niat Wali Jun 21, 2012 10:41am
me too
Usman Masood Jun 19, 2012 10:05am
Interesting! Well-commented!
Mikal Jun 19, 2012 01:27pm
This is the constitution of the United States of America you are referring to, not the constitution of Pakistan.
talha Jun 19, 2012 10:20am
democracy has failed in Pakistan, the democrats are mostly corrupt and self serving to such a degree that they are are destroying the country and its people. No one cares for the country but as the politicians have now managed to harm the state to such an extent that life itself for the common populace is unbearable.
Ammad Malik Jun 19, 2012 11:00am
You have great depth of thought.
Muhammad Alvi Jun 19, 2012 10:55am
I agree with Aziz's comment above. It is pretty evident that the executive branch is more at fault. Pakistani people are suffering because of the action (or lack of it) by the executive. Asma Jahangir is trying to say that everybody is at fault equally. That is not an objective approach. You cannot be impartial between fire and fire brigade.
ahmed waseem Jun 19, 2012 10:51am
she is wrong. Democracy does not only means election. it include rule of law,food and shelter for ordinary people,education ,health and accountability of executive . she did not talk about these things.
naut Jun 19, 2012 10:51am
If pakistan has to survive it needs to improve tax collections . The central govt runs on direct taxs , state govt on sale tax and local on property tax. pakistan tax collection is so poor that Army has to run businesses to keep itself afloat and it interferes in policy.
Rehman Jun 19, 2012 01:20pm
Asma Jahangir, who's she working for?
shahid Jun 20, 2012 10:03am
Dear Devendra, Thanks. I respect your right to differ. But I'm afraid I still hold. She is very much in the same 'cesspool'. In fact her pretentiousness is too annoying; it's more honest to take side clearly.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 06:25pm
Pakistan is a Republic. Dawn is a democracy.
The_whole_truth Jun 19, 2012 06:04pm
azam Jun 19, 2012 05:54pm
Instead of army rule We have judiciary rule
Agha Ata Jun 21, 2012 12:45pm
I don’t know much about the slogans: Islam is under threat . . . . Pakistan is under threat . . . . Democracy is under threat. . . . But I do know that right now a bunch of people are under dreadful and terrible threats, like Makhdoom Ali Shah, Malik Riaz ... etc. I do see, a little far down, though, Zardari standng in the line also!
Naveed Jun 20, 2012 08:37pm
We are much thankful to Political Supreme court of Pakistan. Which always undermines Democratic Institutions of Country in the name of law and justice. We hope supreme court shall continue these to demoralize national democratic institutions in coming days. It looks that the physical age of Pakistan much less than five years and its near to demise. Balouchistan is example and virtually out of the federation, finally Sindh has to followed the same route. Atleast we shall not be responsible future degeneration of the country.
Javed Yakoob Jun 19, 2012 01:35pm
Ms Jehangir you are wrong again. SC has just done its job. Zardari and his cronies want to have their own interpretation of laws laid down in constitution.
Khan Jun 19, 2012 09:48am
If Democracy has failed, there is no one else to blame, beside PPP
javed qamer Jun 19, 2012 01:51pm
Ms. Asma why do you hate the army so much. Compare the era of Musharraf and PPP and you will see PPP has brought Pakistan down on its knees. Every institution is shattered and demoralized i.e. PIA, Railways, Steel mill etc. Please stop before the people of Pakistan revolt.
waqar khan Jun 19, 2012 09:21am
"The establishment has played its cards well. It has masterfully used the hands of civilian institutions to cut each other down to size" respected Asma Jahangir,I would tend to differ here,you also need to come out of your so called anti establishment or may I say anti Army mindset.If the current democratic set up is hell bent on betraying the voter's confidence and not been able to deliver basic democratic rights of common people,then who is to be blamed,the MIGHTY ESTABLISHMENT..certainly not.And bye the way look at the conduct of these democratic leaders and their followers,who is cutting whom to this a tribute to the Army for not indulging into dirty politics..and should they see Pakistan burnt to ashes in the name of democracy..I leave it to judgement of readers.
Atif Bilal Aslam Jun 21, 2012 12:36pm
Why corrupt faces who dont want to deliver at all are being covered under the name of democracy? That judgement was not against democracy, it was against an individual wrongly placed at the helm of stat affairs...
Kris Ramani Jun 19, 2012 05:39pm
I see most people are still blind about Judiciary. For democracy to work effectively, judiciary has to be independent. In the past Judiciary were good bedfellows of Army guys. By taking too much personal interest in Prime Minister, Judiciary has shown their clown type behavior. Very soon Dr. Asalan case will be decided and we will know the truth if at all the judiciary is not blind to certain proofs. Judiciary has brought shame to nation by going too much after Prime Minster for a small mistake of not writing to Switzerland which any Judge could have done. Judges are punishing people who might bring them down and are not going after important cases of rapes, acid throwing, believers of other religion and so on. All these judges should be thrown out and new blood brought. Judge Iftikhar knows how his son is
Irfan baloch Jun 19, 2012 03:37pm
haha well said Asma Jhangir a human rights activist? someone remind me what is her role in the current human rights issues? just joins some marches against establishment & government.
Muhammad Alvi Jun 19, 2012 10:45am
They may be two faces of the same coin, but it is the faces that matter - not the coin.
Devendra Jun 19, 2012 03:22pm
In the cesspool that Pakistan has become, the maggotts are thrashing around....the courts, the politicians and the army Tin Horn Generals. Pakistani people are suffering. They deserve better.
Devendra Jun 19, 2012 03:18pm
Way to go Raika45. You tell'em.
farhanshahidkhan Jun 20, 2012 11:30am
Keep it under threat. Rather kill it completely. We don't want such democracy. Musharraf's autocracy was far better than this
Devendra Jun 19, 2012 03:17pm
That is the problem, Javed. People of Pakistan are NOT REVOLTING.
Devendra Jun 19, 2012 03:14pm
I never knew there was DEMOCRACY in Pakistan. Could have fooled me. What you are calling DEMOCRACY is the puppet show.
NASAH (USA) Jun 19, 2012 02:34pm
If the prime minister has to go the Chief Justice has to go for the cover up of his son's bribery.
ali Jun 19, 2012 02:14pm
With the removal of Gillani the democracy is back on track.
Deep Abyss Jun 19, 2012 02:12pm
Asma Jahangir being part of the government set up should realise its only the PPP that has failed democracy. And really, REALLY does democracy work in Pakistan? Musharraf was the greatest leader Pakistan ever had after Jinnah, admitt it or not. Pakistan was at its economic peak in history. The dollar was 63 rs. I honestly don't care if Musharraf was the US' puppet. All these Saudis and co Arabs are puppets too and at the end of the day they benefit for themselves more than the US does. Don't take me as one of the fanatics but I don't mind whether it is Imran Khan or Musharrad back in rule, either one works. You only notice the Lal Masjid case but disregard the 8 years of economic progress he gave us. Deep inside you know that Lal masjid doesn't even matter anymore because theres so many other problems. Energy, hyper inflation and violation of law and order. Are you gonna blame violence in Karachi on Musharraf too? People know that they'd take Musharraf's tenure back anyday now but they have to deny it. My parents do it, my brother does. I understand. I however don't deny it.
Ziyad Jun 19, 2012 12:29pm
Yes they did. They voted for the PPP, knowing who its standing chairperson was. Please learn to accept a democratic verdict.
Ali Jun 19, 2012 12:39pm
Undoubtedly Musharaf was a man with a vision. Our people are blind and dont use thr minds. Give media some money and corrupt peoples mind all you want. In past 4-5 decades, Musharaf's era was the only time when we grew economically even in the toughest of conditions.
sebastianshenoy Jun 19, 2012 11:39am
Pakistan Democracy is always under threat.Not only in this time.Other nation hardly say pakistan is a Democratic country.
Nice Jun 19, 2012 11:32am
then Ma'm only democracy is to be blamed
Muhammad Alvi Jun 19, 2012 11:23am
Any time. Musharraf has my vote.
Muhammad Alvi Jun 19, 2012 11:22am
I agree. That was the time when bussiness did the best.
aamir Jun 19, 2012 03:09pm
well said!
Devendra Jun 19, 2012 03:11pm
Dear Shahid, Agree with you except Asma is NOT the other side of the same coin. I know you are justifiably disgusted with the Pakistani cesspool but not every one is in it. Pakistan, Thank God, has some honorable people still left (don't know how but they are there).
Usman Jun 19, 2012 03:11pm
People, please remember this time and remember the stands these so-called "intellectuals" and "well-wishers of Pakistani population" took when it really needed their sincerest guidance. For the first time when people are relieved that the judiciary has found the strength to stand up against ridiculous corruption and insanity of the parliament, here she tries to taint it by linking it to the hand of establishment ("establishment has played its cards well"), and claiming it to be a threat against "democracy"!? seriously. For goodness sake Ms. Asma, if you really wish to save "democracy", stop using this word in places where the term "un-checked insane corruption" is better suited, otherwise people will get so sick and tired of it, that they will do once again what they did in 1999, i.e. willingly vote Yes to a Martial-law.
Syed Ahmed Jun 19, 2012 01:15pm
Wither democracy, what people need is roti, kapra aur makan and not just the slogan. Also needed is law and order, health care, education, clean water, gas and petrol for a reasonable living.
Umair Jun 19, 2012 12:14pm
very aptly stated reality of Pakistan
Salim Jun 19, 2012 12:12pm
True common men are only worried about food, shelter, law & order and security of their loved ones.
Wajid Maqsood Jun 19, 2012 12:14pm
Sorry brother but i must say Democracy is much much more important than judiciary in all aspects. But what we generally consider Democracy isn't democracy. Democracy means that we-the people of Pakistan have the right to hold everyone accountable. We have the right to decide who is in power. This is merely a political setup. It has long lost the sense of democracy. A vast majority of the people of the country do not want PPP to stay in the government-but they won the elections, they think it gives them the right to rule. They have the right to rule as long as the people please. Democratically, this government has lost its right to rule. So, Asma Jahangir doesn't support democracy, she supports political system. The government should quit in a political way then. It should resign and hold elections in a suitable way and any of this would not be a blow to democracy. It will strengthen democracy(the control of people). But then, if the government was that good, we wouldn't have wanted replacing it!
abc Jun 19, 2012 11:55am
Democracy or Corruption under threat?
Maryam Jun 19, 2012 11:56am
It's not a reply to Zulfiqar Haider, just wanted to say, that what kind of democracy Asma is referring to..? Did people of Pakistan vote for Zardari in 2008??
aamir Jun 19, 2012 11:58am
and how is strength of judiciary calibrated?
Rasheed Jun 19, 2012 03:40am
Musharraf era was the best
Sarwar Rasool Jun 19, 2012 03:00pm
Democracy is a Fraud...........A lie...not just in Pakistan, but all over the world...the really rulers of this planet have hatch a conspiracy...& we the people are Blind...enough said...
Shoaib Jun 19, 2012 11:52am
Asma Jahangir has lost her credibility since she has started criticising the judiciary on behalf of corrupt politicians. She is clearly on the wrong path now.
I Ahmed Jun 19, 2012 04:03am
Good assessment - leading us to believe that the system needs to change for the democracy to prosper. In all the mayhem today we have noticed the only people who are unscathed is the bureaucracy. We do not need more elections in the name of democracy, we do not need media activism in the name of professional journalism, we need the system to change and now the question is who is going to bell the cat!
Ali Raza Jun 19, 2012 12:07pm
AGREED!! And all those who disagree simply choose to stay blind!
shahid Jun 19, 2012 04:47am
We the people of Pakistan are simply sick of these scares: Islam in danger, democracy in danger. Both Mullah and Asma are two sides of the same coin.
Ahsan Jun 19, 2012 02:03pm
Asma has lost touch with the reality. She chooses to blame everything on non-existent threat from the 'establishment'. Her opinion is grossly biased in favor of PPP.
Asad Raza Jun 19, 2012 04:48am
I can only wish you could be the prime minister or president of Pakistan
S.NAQVI Jun 19, 2012 01:06pm
maazibrahim Jun 19, 2012 05:01am
You are weakening the Judiciary for the sake of democracy. If there is a transparent, honest and independent Judiciary it will automatically be resulting in strong democracy. Ms Asma please do not weaken the Judiciary in the name of democracy.... what i think is that strength of strong and independent Judiciary is more important than democracy these days in Pakistan.
A.Javed Jun 19, 2012 05:30am
the author is not trustworthy. she always tries to put a negative picture of Pakistan. perhaps I could never understand what system actually they want in country and what kind of democracy these people are developing.
Aziz Jun 19, 2012 05:31am
Sadly Ms. Jahangir's formulation though generally true has one key missing element. There is absolutely no mention of the role of the 'executive' branch. She treats democracy as an end in itself. Democracy is a means to an end. The distinction is important to bring food on the table of ordinary people, energy for the factories, schools and colleges and growth of the economy. All the while empowering people democratically to hold everyone accountable including the executive branch. Ms. Jahangir is crying wolf again.
Feroz Jun 19, 2012 05:47am
Asma Jahangir represents a ray of hope in a country where the Light has been doused. To come back from the brink the country needs millions if not thousands of individuals with clarity of thought, strength of character and fortitude to support this gutsy lady.
iftikhar Jun 19, 2012 05:56am
Asma has articularly unveiled the face of so called sacred institution. no doubt chief justice has given remarkable judgements yet its biasednessed cannot be denied. judges look impressed by media not by facts and try to win the favor of media. the role of bar is not applaudable as they think that every person/lawer should follow their will that is totaly undemocratic. if aetezaz stands on their side they call him hero and if he professionally defends the cases of PM he is criticised. at the end it is warning for all the people that pro democratic asma fears about the fate of democracy in pakistan. she is absolutly true and it is duty of all the instituions to defend this priceless and hardly achieved blessing.
DKS Jun 19, 2012 12:59pm
Can't understand a bit ! If Pakistan's constitution gives immunity to President how can PM act against president? From where can he draw power for his actions? What would have been sanctity of those actions? Could those actions stand in court of law that goes by the book? Maybe better way could have been that someone challenged the specific clause of constitution and courts could have nullified the illegal provision and forced PM to act. But as the constitution seems to stand today - act of supreme court looks more illegal !!
haris Jun 19, 2012 12:55pm
Democracy vs Judiciary If this is what a "Democracy" is about then I would certainly opt for "Judiciary" to prevail.
Sohail Sangi Jun 19, 2012 12:57pm
Thought provoking.. Great lady Aasma
Aisha Junaid Jun 19, 2012 12:57pm
Some times we have to believe from a close eye,for what our politician say!!! to the "Nation".
Zulfiqar Haider Jun 19, 2012 06:16am
Thanks Asma Jahangir, for saying spade a spade. My generation has lost sanity. Resultantly we have nothing to leave for the next generartion. Not even a hope. I have no strength to go out and support such a gusty lady. I can only pray that may God give her my share of life.
abdulrashid01 Jun 19, 2012 06:17am
An eye opener by the most credible person, with deep insight in to the process of gathering clouds. The lawyers' community and the political opposition must apply extreme caution in their protests and solidarity to judiciary rallies, lest these rallies and protests become the fore runners of an autocratic takeover of Pakistan. A Rashid, Rawalpindi
Abduallah Jun 19, 2012 06:30am
Asma is no doubt a vocal person for democray and democratic forces. But in my opinion Lets not blame the so called unseen forces to derail democratic forces. Lets try to be part of progressive team to be able to highlight how the democratic government is itself telling lies, engaging in mass corruption, hypocrisy, nepotism and above all leaving no room for democracy to prevail. If the elected people follow no decorum and political sense then the unseen forces will surely take over as country is more important then letting a group of 350+ people driving the country with out sane and responsibility. We should not have a political person in presidency, this is basic violation of democracy.
khushbakht Jun 19, 2012 12:54pm
what do you think democracy is? PPP GOVT or the corrupt ppl you are defending....we are sick of this argument..democracy under threat...unseen forces at work...why doesnt your democracy come up to ppl`s expectations nad fail the unseen forces...we need our basic neccesities fulfilled no matter by what means, democracy or dictatorship...we dont stand for any NGOs we stand for our rights ms jahangir..
haris Jun 19, 2012 12:53pm
Mr. Zulfiqar Haider, I would suggest you to donate your share of life to a worthy cause. I respect your enthusiasm and willingness to sacrifice but supporting Ms. Jahangir is absolutely like supporting perpetuating demise of our society, culture and moral values. So better share your life on worthy projects instead of these "Black sheep wearing White Prada"
Wajid Maqsood Jun 19, 2012 12:52pm
Dirty Politicians-not democracy. Our courts will take good care of them and eventually, they will learn democratic manners
raika45 Jun 19, 2012 12:51pm
Pakistan is floundering.It is not even at the crossroads.Your nation and it's leaders have no idea as to what to do or which path to follow.Living day to day or hand to mouth is not a life.What surprises me is the millions of your people sitting dumb ,but can write comments like here without holding your administration by it's short hairs and demanding action.These leaders are your servants[that is why they stood for elections.To serve you] not the other way around.
Ghani N. Jun 19, 2012 12:51pm
Asma's logic- Save sham democracy at any cost. AAZ can restore people's confidence by simply allowing Swiss court to look ino his bank accounts.Constitutional or unconstitutional, here is the question of personal integrity. He is an accidental president, elected on sympathy vote, he should let Gilani go and replace him with one of his other cronies - like Aitzaz Ahsan.
K. M. Nawaz Jun 19, 2012 07:07am
I believe we are already on the verge of another era of dictatorship unless the Juidicary may take a back step. The Judiciary may be doing all the right thigs and decisions, yet the reciepe for a disasterous end of an era of somewhat liberalized media, strong Judiciary and subservient Parliment may soon see an end. The only way out is for judiciary to step back and somehow withhold an adverse decision against the Speaker of the Parliment.
Hamyon Jun 19, 2012 07:16am
It's funny how Asma Jehangir accepts all the misdeeds and misgivings of political, judicial, and media clowns, but somehow end up shifting the blame on the all "powerful" establishment of Pakistan. Conveniently, she vindicates the entire rule of PPP. The establishment is a MYTH, a scapegoat used by the failed democratic leaders who do not want to deliver.
Tarik Rashid Jun 19, 2012 07:28am
May Allah bless this country
Hasnain Jun 19, 2012 07:30am
transparent elections is the only way out of this mess
Shay Mureed Jun 19, 2012 07:49am
a spot on analysis. shenanigans of the establishment and immature political leaders both are responsible for the current crisis. and all others which preceded it. Regards from Quetta.
Van Jun 19, 2012 07:58am
The corrupt elite have always let people down in Pakistan. You are the product of the elite. I still remember my Grandad telling me how he was cheated by a corrupt official. My grandfather refused to pay a bribe and the corrupt official was your father. So please Ms. Jehangir don't preach.
Zulfiqar Shaikh Jun 19, 2012 07:59am
wonderfully written, and genuinely concerning
Shahan Jun 19, 2012 12:37pm
agreed. and the dollar will remain stable for 8 years, ATLEAST! But then again :) I am really happy for the this era of PPP, atleast it may help the people realize, the real enemy of pakistan is not the so called mythical ESTABLISHMENT, but only the political forces!!!
Samy Jun 19, 2012 12:38pm
very well written article and so true - only if more people were as brave and honest as u!
Wajid Maqsood Jun 19, 2012 12:50pm
True democracy will evolve greatly due to this strict accountability. Our dirty politicians will eventually learn to respect the law. The will learn that the SC judgments are meant to be implemented. They will learn that they are not above the law. They will learn to respect the law Pakistan. And our future Zardaris(if there will be any) will resign themselves if needed allegations against them existed.
Iqbal Ali Jun 19, 2012 08:14am
If Democracy has failed itself, there is no one else to blame.... Let Musharraf come back... at least, people will still get ata at Rs. 21.
Kapil Khanna Jun 19, 2012 02:50pm
I may be wrong but if Gilani was corrupt then Judiciary did very well by sacking Gilani. I hope Indian judiciary takes a cue from Pakistani judiciary and remove all the Indian politicians. That said, I would love to see a stable Pakistan in the interest of stable South Asia and for the general betterment of the the common man. As long as politicians do good for the country they represent, a little bit of corruption is tolerable. I also hope that Pakistan rises above religion and takes measures to reduce poverty, improve education etc.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 08:26am
5th amendment Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of "life, liberty, or property" without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness. This clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural rights. 14th amendment Equal Protection Clause requires Each State to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. The Bill of Rights are only the first 10 amendments, but life goes on. The Fifth amendment deals with the specific powers of arrest and trial that law enforcement agencies have under the rules of the US Constitution. They have been modified by appeals (from time to time) and have continued to be modified in Supreme Court decisions such as Miranda v Arizona, Escobedo v Illinois and Gideon v Wainwright (extensions of due process).
asma tanoli Jun 19, 2012 12:29pm
Asma is so right. Indeed all pillars of state namely executive, parliament and judiciary have failed miserably. Media has done no better. Who can bell the establishment which may seem to be a myth but some of its parts are well-organized and do actively pursue their interests.
shahzad Jun 19, 2012 12:28pm
Asma Jhangir has lost credibility by allying herself with the most corrupt regime in Pak history. Her grudge against free and independant judiciary is well known to every one. This particular article from her is nothing but another attempt to malign judicairy.
Wajid Maqsood Jun 19, 2012 12:20pm
This is not democracy. The will of people is not PPP. A better system should be setup to channelize the will of people in a better way to realize the dream of a democratic state. The current system is merely a political system-not democratic. So, please blame politicians-not democracy. If it were democracy, the government would have gone long ago. We need an power system. We have seen our politicians-they can't be given the period of 5 years. 5 months might be enough.
Syed Jun 19, 2012 12:21pm
which democracy is under threat?? that of the PPP to rob our country blind??
A Canadian Jun 19, 2012 06:33pm
Asma Jehangir always has a soft corner for PPP and speaks their language!
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 06:35pm
People without money have little stake in democracy or any other kind of government. That is why the average person does not pay attention to what is happening.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 06:36pm
"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session." -- Mark Twain
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 06:38pm
Money is not important. The people who have it are.
iisrar Jun 19, 2012 06:43pm
Asma, why don't you work to improve the lives of ordinary people esp. within your neighborhood? I'm sure there are plenty of folks you can help instead of helping a Corrupt GOVT that is simply blaming the Judiciary of taking sides. These people are taking kickbacks and living like kings while people are deprive from basic supplies. Those who proclaim autocracy aren't part of the solution. Good news just came in that your friend PM was disqualified
suttamaar Jun 19, 2012 06:48pm
oh and dont forget....bijli!
n.qureshi Jun 19, 2012 06:50pm
any era where the business is good is a good era.people of pakistan deserve better than all the clowns we have around us.i think we need to clean house.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 06:59pm
"Those who cast the votes decide nothing, Those who count the votes decide everything." -- Josef Stalin
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:00pm
Do not want to, or can't?
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:01pm
A very important point.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:02pm
No one is in charge.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:06pm
Yes. Exactly right. He received the sympathy vote.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:23pm
Whether or not the courts have checks and balances by the Legislative and Executive branches of government. + The Congress can limit the power of the Judiciary by legislation, and the Executive can order the arrest of corrupt judges (where the court bailiffs is the bag men). Then we have the Iranian example of the unlimited power of judges to dispense capital punishments. "We have never executed anyone by stabbing. Let's try that."
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:30pm
To profit from government you must put in the work, and be part of the election crowd.. We can have anything in this world we want - but no one is going to give it to us. "The mountain is high, and the emperor is far away." CHINESE PROVERB "All politics is local." IRISH-AMERICAN PROVERB
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:32pm
What would Pakistan be like if everyone in it was just like you are? That is a question every man should ask himself.
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:36pm
"When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty" -- Thomas Jefferson
Cyrus Howell Jun 19, 2012 07:39pm
HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD: "When once a republic is corrupted there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil." –- Thomas Jefferson (on the necessity of the impeachment provisions to our Constitution)
Adnan Jun 19, 2012 07:44pm
It is very sad that Pakistanis seem to be the only people in the world, who believe that someone with 'supernatural' powers will come from somewhere to change their destinies. Why is it that we always talk about the so called "root cause" when it comes to terrorism in the world, but fail to ponder over it when it comes to reasons for failure of Pakistan as a nation. If we keep on blaming a weak and dysfunctional democracy for all our failures, then God be with us.
Zahid Abbas Jun 19, 2012 07:45pm
How many of you honestly think that the Chief Justice did not know what his son was upto? This is ridiculous and naive to think even for a second that the CJ is not a part of the big game. Hello.....please open your eyes and look around you....try to connect the dots....... The filthy picture of the Judiciary is infront of you.They are playing the game of others and those others have arrived in your waters. Celebrate Pakistan its that time again.
Riz Jun 19, 2012 08:23pm
Bravo CJ !! Democratic process must continue. Sincere leadership will emerge, if not now may be after few years. Politicians will have to put their act together and serve the nation. Judiciary and Army will always support rule of law. I'm too optimistic...
imran Jun 19, 2012 08:39pm
Why do we always talk about democracy?? People need food, water, electricity, Gas. These are basic necessity of everyone's lives. I personally don't care whether it's army govt or civil. I want security, jobs and easily available basic necessities. Honestly, we need revolution like arab countries.
Aamir Jun 19, 2012 08:43pm
I 100% concur with you.
A. Raoof N. Jun 19, 2012 09:17pm
SC should try Musharraf for issuing NRO which was akin to Mullah issuing fatwa ' all sins forgiven'. He legalized corruption, made possible for men like Zardari, Sharif Brothers to return from exile. Sadly, BB was assassinated & AAZ became an accidental president. Beginning of sham democracy.
sattar rind Jun 19, 2012 10:01pm
nothing is in danger but our mind set. let them fight. up to its peak. specially all the pillars of the state. who ever comes into power let to come them. what democracy has given public or judiciary or media or politician? -the more equal people are fighting with each other. just see you have no power to do anything ....
TheseusIam Jun 19, 2012 10:47pm
Gilani was elected and not appointed by the generals.
concerned pakistani Jun 19, 2012 11:11pm
Asma you have lost all credibility by becoming a political hack. the award that Canada gave you for your human rights work is also diminished by you doing the dirty work of a political party. stay above the fray and do your job as a human rights activist. stop laying blame at the door of the judiciary and the establishment and conveniently ignoring those that ought to be held accountable for the very people whose human rights you claim to up hold.
MAA Jun 19, 2012 11:28pm
Just by waving PPP flags , you don't get democracy. Pakistan needs a Presidential Democracy not British style PM democracy. We need to make our politicians more accountable and in terms of the law , not treated like kings or queens.
riz Jun 20, 2012 01:01am
Masraff was defienitely the best , he had the corrupt politicians under control
Syed Ibne Reza Jun 20, 2012 01:56am
Here is an honest opinion about Pervez Musharraf. Called dictator by the media he was more democratic than the heavily mandated PMs that we have had. Musharraf was hounded by the media and politicians for the form while all bsked in the substance of his good rule. Asma Jahangir is right in her posture towards the judiciary [though she is is more careful in her choice of words than she needs to be in the present national scene] but I think it is not 'the agencies/estabishment but Nawaz Sharif with his big brother mindset that Iftikhar is beholden to. A judge in the high traditions of subcontinantal judiciary, Iftikhar should have resigned on the slur on his son even if it is planted as Asma would have us believe. he has pursued the Swiss case so tenaciously while so many cases of real impact on public life are kept pending.
NASAH (USA) Jun 20, 2012 02:02am
PPP may not be the one who brought Arsalan Ifthikhar bribery case to the public notice -- but looks like the CJ thinks it is the PPP. Whatever the reason -- the CJ has destabilized the country. My question what if the next Prime Minister also refuses to write the letter to Swiss authorities -- then what? Another PM fired? Doesn't it sound weird -- the elected Prime Minister being fired by an unelected judge. Only in Pakistan folks only in Pakistan!
OYE Jun 20, 2012 02:33am
Whilst I respect Asma Jahangir for her social work. On this score she is dead wrong. The twisted and mangled political setup we have in Pakistan right now is not worthy of being called democracy - it was clearly a well engineered setup negotiated between the foreign god fathers and the most willing local Nababs & Sepoys. She should keep and use her social conscience for the innumerable worthy causes and the masses who are suffering from abuse of power. The Kleptomaniacs ruling Pakistan at the moment do not deserve her advocacy.
mohammad Jun 20, 2012 02:55am
judiciary has done a great job for PAKISTAN. at this stage we should respect their opinion. why is the democracy in danger. let us elect a new PM in the same cabinet and continue. why not. do not be hopeless. MAY ALLAH HELP PAKISTAN..AAMEEN PAKISTAN ZINDABAAD
Asghar Jun 20, 2012 03:20am
Well said syed. Plus missing people who was responsible.
shahid Jun 20, 2012 04:16am
Dear Hamyon, Agree! You ve rightly translated Asma. So her simple version is hardly different from PPP's position.
waqas Jun 20, 2012 05:42am
She is obviously wrong here. But please learn to take a different point of view without questioning his or her credibility and sincerity.
Dr Imran Ahmed Jun 21, 2012 03:13pm
iisrar why don't you work to improve the lives of ordinary people instead of criticizing others who have accomplished a great deal of good?
Arshad Jun 21, 2012 03:14pm
Who said Musharaf's regime was autocracy. It was a dirty mixture of corrupt politics backed by the army, and that has led us here.
Arshad Jun 21, 2012 03:11pm
We have had enough of democracy. It churns out same rubbish each time and in fact grows worse with each succeeding election. We need a new system based on 'Meritocray' where elections are eliminated and capable public representatives selected through competitive examinations.
arshed Jun 21, 2012 07:28am
Well said.
Khalid Jun 21, 2012 09:41am
We don't need democracy. Can't you count the gifts of democracy? See around you with open eyes, people are dying and you're crying for democracy.
abadullah Jun 25, 2012 05:09am
asma here is utterly wrong but keeping in mind her legacy this is ok by her standards. unfortunately , we can not do anything to people who have mental block and are not willing to face ground realities. democracy does not mean we should second people like gilani , raja who have no wthical standards
Cooklle Aug 22, 2012 03:33am
This is a well written post. It is very informative and clear. genius